Wednesday 24 January 2018

Newsmaker: Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO

Marissa Mayer, president and chief executive officer at Yahoo! Inc.. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Marissa Mayer, president and chief executive officer at Yahoo! Inc.. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg Newsdesk Newsdesk

In 2002, Marissa Mayer - then product manager at Google - likened the interface on the search engine at the time to a closed Swiss Army knife: "A clean, simple tool you want to take everywhere."

And now as chief executive of rival Yahoo, Mayer is wielding a scalpel in an effort to stem the company's still deteriorating condition. Last week, the firm reported a whopping $4.8bn loss for 2015 after it impaired the value of investments and assets, including Tumblr, to the tune of $4.4bn.

Its revenue nudged higher to just under $5bn for the year, while its adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) slumped 30pc to $952m.

By comparison, Irish companies such as CRH and Ryanair are bigger in terms of both revenue and EBITDA, while Kerry Group isn't miles away from Yahoo's EBITDA figure either, and beats it on revenue.

Mayer was paid a whopping $42m in cash and stock during 2014, which was 69pc more than in 2013 and just 15pc more than what she was paid in the first year as Yahoo chief executive. She joined in 2012.

And while the latest set of quarterly and full-year results made for disappointing reading, Mayer was still talking up the prognosis. And that was despite the company's results revealing that Yahoo would close five offices and axe 1,600 jobs, or 15pc of its workforce.

Company chairman Maynard Webb said that Yahoo is exploring additional strategic alternatives, including separating itself from its 15pc stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which is worth $23bn. That's the bulk of Yahoo's $27bn market capitalisation.

Late last year, Mayer abandoned a plan to spin off its valuable Asian assets to shareholders, and said she would instead consider a reverse spin-off of other businesses into a standalone company, heightening criticism of her strategy. Last Tuesday, Yahoo said it will continue to pursue that plan, while the board will "engage on qualified strategic proposals".

"It has yet to be seen exactly what types of interest will really transpire, but we're open to any transactions," said Mayer.

Several parties, including Verizon, have expressed interest in a possible Yahoo transaction. Private-equity firms TPG and Bain Capital are also interested.

The consensus is that this is probably Mayer's end-game. And it could be Yahoo's too. (Additional reporting: Bloomberg).

Marissa Mayer

Irish Independent

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